I apologise for suggesting a stroll into Yorkshire without a passport but i do have a good reason.
I met a man in Hebden Bridge and we talked about the history of the textile industry. He pointed out that many of the handloom weavers in Lancashire sold their woollen goods in Yorkshire and that Shibden Hall in Halifax was a good place to study the history of wool and he was quite right.
The word Shibden means “ valley of the sheep” and the area certainly made its fortune from wool.
In 2004 Shibden Hall was given in 2004 a lottery grant of £3.7 million as part of a £6 million project to restore the hall and Country Park which now surrounds it.
Not a single penny has been wasted.
From Shibden Hall follow the obvious track down to the boating lake. It is thought that Emily Bronte used the hall as her model for Thrushcross Grange in her only novel Wuthering Heights, which was published in 1847.
Shibden was used in the 1991 version of the film.
Just four families, the Oakes, Saviles, Waterhouses and especially the Listers have lived in the hall since 1420 and this continuity is one of the main reasons why the building has survived so well.
Since 1934 the hall has been a museum run by the local council. In the grounds grow some fine examples of a plant called teasel.
The sharp bristles made them useful for brushing woolen cloth to raise the knap.
In East Lancashire you can often find Teasel growing where handloom weaving of wool was once an important industry.
There are teasels growing in the Rossendale area and close to Wycoller and no doubt many others of our East Lancashire villages.
The lake, park and children’s playground at Shibden are popular all the year round. A good romp plus feeding the wildfowl is a healthier option for families instead of just congregating around the Playstation.
Ascend a track called Old Godleylane which meets the busy A58.
Ignore this road and turn left onto Staups Lane passing the Stump Cross Inn to the right. Continue to ascend the lane which soon becomes cobbled.
At the end of the paving at Shibden Dale pass through a gate on the left and follow a field path and then a track to the left and descend to the old Shibden Mill Inn.
Follow an obvious track and cross a footbridge over Shibden Beck. At one time Shibden Mill was water powered and was an important site in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.
Pass Spa House on the right. This is the only tangible reminder of Halifax’s ambition to become a Spa town to rival Ilkley, Knaresborough and Harrogate.
Pass along a series of walled tracks between the hamlets of Claremont and Shibden Fold. pass through Godley Cutting.
Pass over the A 58 and clearly seen is the entrance to Shibden Park. Pass the pitch and putt course on the left and descend the wider track to return to the car park.
How to get there
Although almost in the centre of Halifax, Shibden Hall and Country Park was once in the heart of a fertile valley.
It is now clearly signed from Halifax but is surrounded by a network of major roads including the A58 linking Rochdale with Leeds.
This is my favourite way to reach Shibden from East Lancashire but others may prefer to use the M62.
Distance: 5½ miles